Usually, it’s the ugly stuff we don’t want to deal with
We accept our bodies change — get stronger with exercise, more tired as night approaches, older as the years pass. What’s harder to accept is that our minds and spirits change as well. And, importantly, those of the people around us do, too. All the time.
My relationship with my sister has shifted. It makes me sad, but that’s the way it is. Over the last few years, I’ve thought over and over how I could help get it back to where it was. Or wondered and worried about what will happen in the future.
Will we only see each other a few times a year at family gatherings from now on? Will our sons still be close? What will I tell people who ask why we’re not always together like we used to be?
All that thinking and over-thinking is resistance. It’s not accepting our relationship for what it is now. It’s wishing it was what it used to be.
Relationships are tough.
It’s easy to see when we’ve gained or lost weight. When we’ve earned a few more wrinkles. When we’ve progressed to swimming an extra lap or running an extra block. But noticing and accepting changes in our relationships is so much harder.
It involves looking deeply at ourselves and how we’re feeling, while at the same time considering who the other person is and what our relationship with them is like now.
In the past, my sister and I were together with our families all the time. We brunched and shared pizza dinners, often weekly. We went on travel adventures together over the winter holidays and camped and cottaged in the summer months. And we raised our two boys together with playdates and birthday parties and hikes and sleepovers.
But now, most of that is gone. What’s left is occasional conversations that are detached and awkward, mostly about practical things, rather than deep connection.
The distance is something my sister has requested, putting up boundaries to help give her something she needs to be happy, but it’s still weird and different for me. I feel angry and resentful.
Those feelings are just more resistance. They’re simply me trying not to feel the hurt. Not wanting to experience the loss.
But feeling the loss is the way through to accept where things are now. Grieving the old relationship is the only way to finding peace in this new one.
Being mindful of how we’re feeling during troublesome times when we’re grieving or going through a loss, is important for our growth. So is being kind and compassionate with ourselves. Giving ourselves the time we need to feel all those challenging emotions.
We can feel overwhelmed.
That’s when we give ourselves a break. Or we can feel we’re not ready. That’s when we say to ourselves, “Not now, maybe tomorrow.”
But when we are ready, that’s when we sit with the hurt and the anger, the frustration, the sadness, whatever the challenging feelings are. Give them their time and space before letting them go, letting them pass right through us.
Maybe we have to sit with the feelings more than once, maybe often. For me, sitting with the feelings in nature helps.
When we let them go, we know it because we’re not distracted by our thoughts anymore. Or overcome by our emotions.
We can see and accept the situations for what they are and the people around us for who they are. And most importantly, we can accept ourselves and how we feel in the moment.
We deal with situations as they happen, without being afraid of them. And we can make the best decisions for ourselves.
It’s difficult. Not fun at all. But it is necessary. It’s vital, in fact, for our health and wellbeing. And critical if we want to thrive in our relationships with the people we love.